REUNITED: Pitt to be former teammate Rea’s crew chief at Pata Yamaha, "very exciting" arrival for Locatelli

Friday, 27 October 2023 13:05 GMT

After working with Andrea Locatelli since 2021, the Australian will switch to Jonathan Rea’s team for 2024 with the six-time Champion joining the squad

While the big focus has been on the rider line-up on the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship grid, all of these changes have led to a shake-up of crew chiefs too. As a fundamental part of each rider’s team, it’s important to have the right crew chief and there will be changes within the Pata Yamaha box in terms of both riders and crew chiefs as they shuffle people around following Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) arrival.

The move is made by possible by Phil Marron following Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) to the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team for 2024 when the Turk switches manufacturers, with their relationship going back to 2019. This created an empty crew chief chair at the factory Yamaha team, and this paved the way for the next move which will re-unite six-time Champion Rea and Andrew Pitt, with the partnership starting work on Tuesday at the post-season test at Jerez.

Rea’s current crew chief, Pere Riba, confirmed in FP1 that he is staying with the KRT outfit despite the Ulsterman’s departure, and Yamaha have opted to move Pitt across the box for Rea. The two were teammates at Hanspree Ten Kate Honda back in 2008 in WorldSSP when they finished 1-2 in the Championship, with the Australian claiming his second title. It means that Rea’s future teammate, Andrea Locatelli, will be without a crew chief for now.

During Free Practice 2 at Jerez, Team Principal Paul Denning confirmed Pitt’s move to Rea’s side of the garage, while also addressing how the opening created by this move on Locatelli’s side would be filled. Although he didn’t reveal the name of the #55’s crew chief for next season, he explained they would be joining the team later in the year.

Discussing the crew chief allocation for 2024, Denning said: “I can confirm that Andrew will come across to work with Jonathan. They’ve got a very close relationship that goes back many, many years. They’ve been teammates before but when Andrew was a rider, not a crew chief. On top of that, we’ve got a very, very exciting crew chief coming to join the team to strengthen the whole project, who will work with ‘Loka’. That’ll be announced towards the end of November.”

It was a strong day for the team on Friday with 2021 Champion Razgatlioglu topping the times. The majority of the field opted to stay in the box in FP1 due to wet conditions on track, but everyone ventured out in FP2. The #54’s best time was a 1’40.312s, around two seconds clear of Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in second, while Locatelli took ninth and was around nine tenths down on his teammate.

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